One of the things I loved about him was his utter dismissal of the usual excuses. You know the ones I'm talking about: "We couldn't possibly say what's on our mind because it's not appropriate..."
I asked him a question: "How do you scale community management and maintain the same level of hustle?" He struggled to understand where the problem was. "Do you mean what tools do they use? Like CoTweet or something?"
What I was trying to ask was how you get people who are equally passionate and will hustle the same way you will. Of course, even as I was trying to articulate the issue, my cheeks were reddening as the answer dawned on me. Why would you hire someone who wasn't as passionate as you are? For that matter, why would you work for someone whose passion you didn't share?
Having interviewed dozens of job applicants recently, I realized the paradigm of supplicant-benefactor is pervasive. If you apply for a job, the only successful outcome is getting it. But why can't a job interview be mutual?
Before you jump off your seat, let's be clear: I'm not judging or belittling any form of honest labor. There are hundreds of millions of people who do whatever they can to survive in a cruel world, and it would be monstrously insensitive and unfair to suggest that someone rendered homeless and widowed by the floods in Pakistan should hold out until she finds her dream job.
It would be similarly insensitive and unfair to suggest that someone living on $8 an hour should quit on principle and find someplace where he's appreciated. (For an excellent and moving tale of living in low-wage America, you can't beat Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed.)
What I'm talking about is something different: the courage and integrity it takes for a job applicant to say, "You know what? After sitting through this interview, I can see this job just isn't for me. And if I'm not passionate about it, I won't do my best. And you'll be frustrated, and I'll be frustrated and it will all end badly."
That kind of statement is full of self-respect and respect for the prospective employer. But sometimes you don't know in advance whether a job is right for you, and, like a tentative new relationship, you decide to give it a crack. And, sometimes, you find out reasonably quickly that a job isn't right for you. Shouldn't it also be courageous and honorable to say at that point, as Google's former videogame guru Mark DeLoura did yesterday, that the job is not a "perfect fit" ? Shouldn't that be a good reason to leave?
I remember a friend asking me why I wasn't doing something and I replied: "I just don't feel like it." He laughed with delight. "That's the only true reason I've ever heard," he exclaimed -- and he was right. Every other reason -- it's too hard, I don't have time, it's not possible -- are nothing more than excuses.
And a disciple of Gary Vaynerchuk just doesn't have time for excuses.